Saturday, December 09, 2006

Your boss as the customer

As a legislative aide, you are probably on one of two sides. Either you are an insider to your Rep's politics or you are a technician. If you are an insider, then you've been there through the election campaign, the personal issues, the damage control, and the barbecues. You have the same beliefs and goals as your boss. Getting him to move on forward moves your own goals forward.

The other alternative is to be a technician. You are there to do the job, do it well, and then go home to your real life. What happens at work has no bearing on your own life. The advantage to this approach is that you can take care of business you don't necessarily believe in. It's just a job.

As a legislative aide, you need to make the decision early on. Are you going to be an insider or a technician? If you are going to be an insider, it is best if you become friends with your boss. Do be aware that if things go bad between you, things can turn bitter.

If you choose to be a technician, and remain emotionally detached from the job, you have the benefit of no obligations beyond your work hours. You don't have to put up with egos and bs. Just turn in your stuff and walk away. No strings.

It's a tough choice. Interns have the advantage that they have a limited time to work. The decision is made for them. In your case, however, it will have to be your choice. Good luck on that.


strange bedfellows said...

Shaine, are these observations your own, or is this what someone is telling you about working as a legislative aide? Here's my two-cents, for what it's worth.

As a legislative aide, you can't be a technician - that's an intern's job. You have to play the game if you want to be successful at the Capitol and in the district. Being an insider does not equate to being personal friends with your boss, going to pachangas, working the campaign or knowing his baggage and such. It's about utilizing your position to get things done - and that can only be accomplished by someone from the "inside." I have to agree with David Diaz in what he said in another post: "you have political power far beyond most Texans because, with the whim of an idea, you can change state policy or create new law." Does that sound like a technician to you?

My advice to you is this: If you decide to be a technician, then you're better off staying in the district office. I mean no disrespect towards you and your capabilities, but in all honesty you can't come up to the Capitol just to be a technician. You have to be willing to be a true player in the game, no matter how big or small you think your position is, and a technician never passes a bill into a law.

Shaine Mata said...

Thanks, Strange Bedfellows. I sometimes write ideas that occur to me. I often think ahead and consider odd questions before they present themselves so that I can determine how I'll deal with them.

The difficulty in being a technician in politics, I imagine, is that as a part of the team, you are also a target of criticism. That's rather personal.

I think I was debating the approach to being a legislative aide like being an attorney. You have to represent your client to the best of your ability regardless of your own personal opinions.

I've spoken with former Legislative Aides and political employees. They have told me that sometimes they have good bosses who treat them like family; and, sometimes they work for "socially challenged" officials. It's the luck of the draw.

I'm sure that if you have a good boss, being an insider is not a problem. If you just got hired for the session, and your boss is "socially challenged", you still have an obligation to do your job. In short, it may not be a decision you make, the decision could be made for you by the team you joined. You won't know until after you've started working.